Forum: Good reasons for Singaporeans to be anxious about employability

People walking on the street on Sept 27, 2018.
People walking on the street on Sept 27, 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

Singapore has no natural resources, and its strongest attribute is a talented and well-educated workforce, which helps in attracting foreign companies to set up shop and invest here.

Without natural resources, the Government needs to attract foreign investments, in order to sustain a continual positive economic performance.

Contrary to what Mr Johann Loh Runming believes, Singaporeans are not expecting the Government to ensure their employability (Not Govt's role to ensure employability, Jan 10). Rather, they are asking that they be treated fairly, both in employment and advancement, compared with their foreign counterparts.

At the American Chamber of Commerce human capital conference in November last year, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo encouraged employers to practise fair hiring and advancement (Hiring, promoting fairly can reduce locals' anxieties: Josephine Teo, Nov 23, 2019). She said that even with the Fair Consideration Framework, which requires employers with at least 10 staff to advertise jobs paying less than $15,000 a month on the national Jobs Bank before applying for an employment pass, some employers treat this as a paper exercise, failing to consider good local applicants.

Singaporeans are not expecting the Government to ensure their employability. Rather, they are asking that they be treated fairly, both in employment and advancement, compared with their foreign counterparts.

So there are good reasons for Singaporeans to be anxious. Accusing them of demanding that the Government take control over their lives and guaranteeing employability shows a lack of empathy and a failure to appreciate the real problems facing Singaporeans.

Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2020, with the headline 'Good reasons for Singaporeans to be anxious about employability'. Print Edition | Subscribe